On Saturday night, Omar Figueroa will officially be two fights into his second chance career weight class.
In 2012, Figueroa pulled off what many considered an upset victory over Michael Perez. At the time, both fighters were undefeated, but only one went on to a fairly successful run in the lightweight division. That fighter was Figueroa and that win sparked his career.
From that point on, Figueroa’s flaws and inconsistent qualities were overlooked in an effort to highlight is entertaining nature and inspired performances in the ring. After destroying Abner Cotto and delivering a classic against Nihito Arakawa, Figueroa’s career seemed brighter than ever. He was actually considered a quality lightweight fighter.
Then, in April 2014, Figueroa had a shaky performance against Jerry Belmontes. The bout was a grudge match from the amateurs that was heightened by their Texas roots. Figueroa, who is from Weslaco, and Belmontes, from Corpus Christi, grew up only hours away from one another in South Texas.
Belmontes had claimed to beat Figueroa every time they met in the amateurs, and he showed that dominance in spurts throughout the fight. Figueroa had his moments, too, but many felt that even though he won a split decision victory Belmontes was able to magnify Figueroa’s flaws to the point that the jig was up and everyone was now on to Figueroa as an unbeatable fighter.
After rebounding against Daniel Estrada, Figueroa turned in another questionable outing against Ricky Burns in his only outing thus far in 2015.
Plagued by hand injuries and the tendency to blow up after his fights, Figueroa is now seen as one of the most vulnerable undefeated fighters in the sport of boxing. In fact, he isn’t treated like an undefeated fighter, and he’s certainly not given the respect of one. It seems as though most expect the “blood and guts” style fighter to lose his zero at some point, and the eventual loss will continue to plague Figueroa until he evolves in an obvious and prominent way.
The open secret on Figueroa is that he treats boxing like a job. To him, he trains because it is an unfortunate necessity for his job – much like cracking eggs is part of a chef’s job – and he is forced to focus on spending much of his training camp losing weight, leaving him little room to actually prepare for the specific opponent.
Enter Antonio DeMarco, who Figueroa will meet in the main event of a PBC card being televised on NBC, live from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Most assume that Figueroa will dispose of DeMarco with ease. The storyline for this fight is Figueroa is being given a soft touch fight in order to showcase his skills on network TV and in front of a crowd that will be pro-Figueroa, and a crowd that will appreciate his rough but entertaining style.
The problem is DeMarco is not coming to lay down for Figueroa to earn the kind of win that sets up a significant showdown with a major player.
Of course, a young undefeated fighter on the verge of stardom should take out a fighter like DeMarco. In fact, for proof, you need only to look as far back as DeMarco’s last outing against Rances Barthelemy. In that fight, DeMarco was beaten to a pulp by the superior Barthelemy, and it was because of that fight most see DeMarco as a walk in the park for Figueroa.
However, in an interview with Antony “Rod” Rodriguez of Thaboxingvoice, DeMarco admitted that he is well aware of the preconceived notions heading into the bout, but he assured TBV that he is more than a live dog in this fight.
When asked whether or not he felt like he was a showcase for Omar, DeMarco responded by saying, “I’ve heard that once or twice or maybe a million times, but definitely it will not be that kind of fight. I’m not here to be an easy fight for Omar Figueroa.”
Some might feel as though DeMarco is simply trying to sell the fight and that he is spewing the same promo talk we hear out of most fighters. The thing is, no fighter would admit to being a showcase fighter, but, in this case, DeMarco is correct in feeling that Figueroa can be beaten.
The one thing you will get from this fight is activity. Both fighters throw punches and neither of these fighters maintains the ability to stay away from the other. We will see action and it will be entertaining, and because of these intangibles you have to consider DeMarco’s chances in this fight. He isn’t the favorite, but in a fight like this anything can happen.
“I know it will be a great fight for me and for the fans. The fans will win by watching this fight.
“I’m focused on what I have to do and I’m 100%. The person that worked the hardest is going to be the winner and the preparation will [be] shown in the ring,” DeMarco said.
DeMarco feels invigorated for this fight, partly because he has his team back together after a brief retirement which he announced following the Barthelemy loss. If DeMarco was going to come back then this is exactly the kind of fight that he should’ve come back for because other than the health risks associated with a potentially grueling fight such as this one, this is a winnable fight for DeMarco, which is not the case for a lot of other top fights that he could’ve taken in the junior welterweight division.
He also spoke about his training camp in Spring Mountain Youth Camp in Mount Charleston, Nevada, which he attributes its high altitude for his vast preparations.
These two fighters, despite what they might be saying, are prepared for war. It is in their DNA. Regardless of the outcome, fight fans will win come Saturday night.